The Fan (1981)

The Fan (1981)


A famous actress, Sally Ross (Lauren Bacall, The Big Sleep and Key Largo), becomes the object of a devoted fan’s pathological obsession. The psychotic admirer, Douglas Breen (Michael Biehn, The Terminator and Aliens), will do anything and I mean anything, to impress the glamorous star.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Adapted by Priscilla Chapman and John Hartwell from a novel by Bob Randall, and directed by Ed Bianchi, The Fan has all the elements of a slasher movie — knife-wielding maniac, various victims — yet it doesn’t feel like one. It is as if the filmmakers wanted to cash in on the post-Halloween splatter craze, but were a bit ashamed of their intentions.

The glossy and gory never mesh quite right. Particularly grating is the inclusion of some truly awful songs (written by Marvin Hamlisch and Tim Rice).

Movie buffs will, however, enjoy the fact that Lauren Bacall is essentially playing herself and the role parallels her own life. She has good company: James Garner (Sunset) plays Bacall’s ex-husband, Maureen Stapleton (Bye Bye Birdie) is Bacall’s personal secretary, Hector Elizondo (Mrs. Winterbourne) is a police inspector, and Dwight Schultz (Fat Man and Little Boy) plays a theater director. Look for actor Griffin Dunne (An American Werewolf in London) in a bit role.

Best of all is Pino Donaggio’s (Carrie and Dressed to Kill) superb music score. Donaggio repeatedly takes the film out of ordinaryville. The master of prosthetics, Dick Smith (The Exorcist and Amadeus), did the special makeup effects.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Flaws and all, I found myself enjoying the first half of The Fan — it is a terrific idea for a movie — but sadly the film begins to lose steam midway. However, the film’s main problem is that it will remind viewers of similar-themed and far superior thrillers like Play Misty for Me, and Misery (also with Bacall). Fans of Bacall don’t want to miss it, though. Color, 95 minutes, Rated R.

5 responses to “The Fan (1981)

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